Sunday, 13 September 2015

Seeing the Shape of Caring beginning to emerge through 'our Lisa's' engagement with others

I so like like listening to music. A week ago, it was live music courtesy of 4 guitarists playing foot tapping music in a micro brewery near Carnforth who got every one singing along to a live group rendition of Lou Reeds, 'take a walk on the wild side'. Last night it was the Last Night (of the Proms). The fabulous Marin Alsop kept us enthralled. There was a double helping of 'Land of Hope and Glory', a Sound of Music singalong, and even some flying union jack underpants. I know there was some other important event going on yesterday, maybe a golf tournament between the UK and the US or something else, but the highlight of the weekend for me, was most definitely the BBC Proms.

In the many conversations of last week, the one that was the highlight for me was one in which a colleague referred to 'our Lisa' and the 'shape of caring'. 'Our Lisa', referred to Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, Director of Nursing for Health Education (HEE) England. The Shape of Caring review explored the future education and training of registered nurses and care assistants and its outcomes make some of the most important propositions for changes to the education for nurses seen in a long time. Lisa is currently leading on the Shape of Caring consultation/engagement events taking place up and down England.

I went to one of these events recently at Manchester Airport and found that HEE had put a great deal of thought into making the event engaging, fun and very creative - I was most impressed. Last Thursday the engagement approach featured an evening Twitterchat on possible new models for nurse education. Twitter chats are great ways of gaining the thoughts, ideas and concerns of others. Just as last night Marin Alsop described how the power of music has to bring people together and give them voice, Twitter is also a brilliant way to enable others to gain a voice.

Unfortunately last Thursday evening I was driving the Big Black Cat on my way to the House in Scotland as the Twitterchat was being facilitated, so could not take part. At present I am not aware that it is possible to use voice-to-text software to send tweets, although I am sure such developments are around the corner. My iPad and mobile phone and even my car are forever asking me to repeat what I have just said…  …but thanks to the way Twitter works, a summary of the Twitterchat is available (you can find it here), and of course, by going to the #shapeofcaring it's still possible to respond and get your voice heard.

The original 'our Lisa' conversation was actually a far reaching one covering a range of topics from potential new models of funding nurse education, through to what those educational programmes might look like. I have lots of ideas, and alongside my colleagues in the School we are actively working at building upon our 2011 curriculum to develop a 2016 curriculum that reflects the rapidly changing range of care environments. We are also committed to further developing our underpinning creative pedagogical approach to the facilitation of learning. It is an exciting experience to be part of as we are fully committed to exploring every model of learning, however different these might be to our current approach.

There was another strand to my conversation, which reflected the second part of the Shape of Caring review, which is how we might better prepare the largely unqualified members of the current workforce, the nursing assistants, care assistants, and assistant practitioners.The Shape of Caring author, Lord Willis, rightly acknowledged the enormous contribution this group of health care workers makes to the NHS. He noted that they can provide up to 60% of hands on care that people receive yet they often do not have any access to training or personal development. It’s a situation that has to change and as with changes to nurse education, colleagues across our School want to be in the vanguard of these changes.

I've also wondered whether we could work towards this group forming the foundation for a new entrant to the workforce, a group that could be called the Nurse Associate. Of course as a member of the health care workforce, this is a title that is very familiar in the US and reflects the basic differences in the US educational programmes underpinning an individual’s preparation for nursing practice. For me just like the Physician Associate, another familiar and  new entrant to the health care workforce in the US, and one we are on the brink of importing to the UK, the Nurse Associate could have a vital role to play in the provision of future integrated health and social a care services.

Physician Associates' absolutely don't have the same scope of practice as Doctors. Indeed they don’t even have the same scope of practice as Advanced Nurse Practitioners, and for example, many other nurses with prescribing rights. They are not educated and trained in the same way as doctors are. However, it is the medical profession that are the greatest advocates of the Physician Associate and have clamoured for their inclusion into the workforce. Similarly, in my concept of the Nurse Associate,  they would also have a different education and training to nurses As a profession, nursing has rightly secured the graduate preparation headland, and doesn't need to feel threatened by the concept of the Nurse Associate. We need new entrants to the workforce and we should be progressing these debates without resorting to sterile arguments about 'two tierism', or a return to the era of the Enrolled Nurse and so on.
I don’t know if 'our Lisa' reads this blog or not, but I know a large number of other people do – so I would be very happy to hear the voice of others on developing the concept of the Nurse Associate, and/or any other element of the Shape of Caring opportunities. You can do this by leaving a comment here, or emailing me on or tweeting me on @warnetony  I am on holiday now for a week, but will look forward to receiving your responses – right now, as its not yet the 11th of October, as soon as its light enough outside I'm off with Cello to pick some early morning dew kissed blackberries, one of my favourite fruits.